Tantal – “Expectancy” (2014)

Label: Bakerteam Records

Review by Vard Aman

Tantal was formed in 2004 in Moscow by guitarist, Dmitriy Ignatiev. A year later they were joined by vocalist, Sofia Raykova who took care of both clean vocals and growls. In 2007, the released their highly acclaimed debut album “The Beginning of the End”… and the rest, as they say, is history. Well, not quite: Sofia left in 2011 and was replaced in 2013 by Milana Solovitskaya, who now takes care of the clean vocals. Oh, yes… and after 3 years in the making, they have now recently released their new album, “Expectancy”. They play a intricate fusion of Melodic Death Metal and Progressive Metal and have mastered it in a way that few bands have. Their sound has also evolved: “The Beginning of the End” was a more brutal Death + Thrash + Melodic Death + Progressive fusion, while “Expectancy” is more refined, less brutal, with the Melodic Death Metal + Progressive edge coming to the fore. At the forefront of this awesome(ly) Tantal(izing) sound are the guitars with their mixture of power and amazing intricacy, with some stunning solos. Do you need a comparison? Think of a cross between Amaran (now long defunct) and Infinite Tales (who have also recently released a new album).

Tantal took their time in recording “Expectancy”, and not just because of vocalist problems, they paid great attention to detail and the results show in the quality of the sound. In other word they’re perfectionists, despite perfection being impossible. For the vocals, after lengthy hunting (replacing Sofia was never going to be easy) they brought in a guest vocalist, Vlad Lobanov, to do the growls. His job was more than adequately done – as a Melodic Death Metal vocalist he is as good as any – but I miss Sofia‘s sheer brutality even though Vlad‘s control is probably better. For the clean vocals, Tantal brought in Milana who then became their permanent vocalist. She is every bit as good as Sofia was, and as far as control goes, perhaps even better. Sofia‘s accent often came through heavily in places, but that is not the case with Milana (take a listen to the line “there’s no helping hand” in two versions of “In the End (Part 2)” if you want a good example of what I’m talking about). Anyway, that’s enough with comparisons and nitpicking.

“Expectancy” takes a few listens to get into, and this is mostly because of the detail in the guitar work; and as the guitars are Tantal‘s most outstanding feature, you’ll be missing out unless you pay them the close attention they deserve. The clean vocal melodies are instantly likable, and after many listens some of them really grow and get stuck in the head (e.g. the vocal melody of “Dying in the flame of fear, choked by the real world”), while others gradually begin to jar just a little a bit depending on my mood (e.g. the vocal melody of “…hurts everyday and leaves me dry” – about 2:10 into “Pain That We All Must Go Through” – the first time that line is sung in the beginning of the song is beautiful). And by the way, no lyrics came with my promo copy, so I’m quoting those lines by ear and feel quite confident in doing so – all credit to the clarity of Milana‘s vocal delivery and to the quality of the recording! There are 10 songs on the album (including two bonus tracks), running at just over an hour. All the songs are quality, there are no fillers, so you can easily listen to it from beginning to end. It’s hard to pick favourites, but after many listens I’ll choose “Expectancy Pt.1 (Desert in My Soul)” and “Under the Weight of My Sorrow I Crawl”. The final song on the album is a Russian version of “Expectancy Pt.1”. The other bonus track, on my promo copy at least, is an acoustic version of “In the End Pt.2 (Epitaph)” from the previous album. The instrumental, “In Times of Solitude”, features Less from Blackthorn on violins.

So, what more can be said? If you’re a fan of this kind of Progressive Melodic Death Metal played the way it should be played and better; and if you appreciate brilliant guitar work and powerful, crystal clear female vocals, then you need to get this album. And good luck getting some of those vocal melodies out of your head… assuming you would want to, which you wouldn’t. ….“Dying in the flame of fear, choked by the real world….”

Rating – 87/100

 

Tracklist

  1. Through the Years
  2. Expectancy Pt.1 (Desert in My Soul)
  3. Echoes of Failures
  4. In Times of Solitude
  5. Nothing (Selfish Acts)
  6. Pain That We All Must Go Through
  7. Expectancy Pt.2 (Despair)
  8. Under the Weight of My Sorrow I Crawl
  9. In The End Pt.2 (Epitaph) (Acoustic Version)
  10. В Моих Глазах [V Moih Glazah – In My Eyes]

 

Line Up

  • Milana Solovitskaya – Vocals
  • Dmitriy Ignatiev – Guitars
  • Alexander Strelnikov – Guitars
  • Mikhail Krivulets – Bass
  • Vyacheslav Gyrovoy – Drums

 

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